Daniel from the Jaffa community sent us an article about Saint Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast is celebrated on August 14.


Maximilian Rajmund Kolbe was born on January 8, 1894 in the town of Zdunska Volia in central Poland. In 1910, he took his first vows in the Franciscan conventual order and received the name Maximilian. In 1912, he was transferred to Roma where he received two academic degrees - in philosophy and in theology.

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On October 16, 1917, together with a group of friends, he established the movement "Militia Immaculatae" with the aim of spreading the veneration of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary and to bring people back to their faith, praying that all be enlightened through her intercession and patronage especially those who were the enemies of Christian faith and the Church.

In 1918, after his ordination to the priesthood, Maximilian returned to his homeland. For a time he served in Krakow and thereafter was transferred to a monastery in Grodno. There he founded, in 1922, a publishing house and began to print the journal "the Cavalier of Mary Immaculate Blessed Virgin" (Rycerz Nepokalenej).

In 1927, Father Maximilian Kolbe founded a new Franciscan monastery not far from Warsaw and dedicated it to the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary (Nepokalenow), which sought to be a center for the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The publication was transferred there and successfully promoted this activity.

Maximilian Kolbe's dream was to found monasteries similar to Nepokalenow in each country. Therefore, in 1930, he went to Japan. On his way, he passed through the Soviet Union. While in Moscow, he prophesied that the Virgin Mary would be victorious in Russia.

In the Land of the Rising Sun, Maximilian established a Japanese Nepokalenow in a suburb of Nagasaki and set up a publishing house there. This was an excellent means to spread the Gospel among the local population.

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In 1936, Maximilian returned to Poland and was again the head of Nepokalenow, which became in this period the biggest monastery in the Catholic Church. In his daily life Maximilian sought to realize the ideal of the poverty of spirit that had been the ideal of Saint Francis of Assisi. In his apostolic zeal, he exploited modern means of science and technology whenever he found them necessary for the proclamation of the Gospel to the world. Thanks to this, a radio station broadcast from Nepokalenow and seven journals were published including a daily one. In planning was even the initiation of a television station and the inauguration of an airport. However, at the center of the life of the monks were the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession. By the beginning of the Second World War, there were more than 700 monks in the monastery and more than a million members of "Militia Immaculatae".

In 1941, Maximilian was arrested by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp not far from Warsaw and from there he was sent to Auschwitz. After a prison escaped, the Nazis sentenced to death by starvation ten prisoners. One of them, Franciszek Gajowniczek, pleaded with the Nazis for his life because he was a husband and a father. Maximilian volunteered to take his place. On August 14, 1941, after he remained the sole survivor of those who had been sentenced to die by starvation, he was put death by an injection of poison in Block 11 of Auschwitz.

After a process of collecting evidence, its verification and much work by the commission for proclaiming sainthood in the Catholic Church, Pope Paul VI proclaimed Maximilian Kolbe a blessed on October 17, 1971. Later, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him a saint on October 10, 1982.

His feast is on August 14.